Sunshine State? Not today.
Not with Florida joining intrastate rival Florida State in taking early planes home from the College World Series. The Gators were dispatched by USC, which got 11th-inning hits by Jeremy Freitas and Rod Perry Jr. that scored two runs each in a 12-10 victory Monday night.
Florida and Florida State will share seventh place and the ignominy of being ousted by California schools. The Seminoles were sent home by Long Beach State on Sunday night.
USC advanced to a knockout match tonight against Mississippi State, which was beaten by Louisiana State, 10-8, in Monday's first game.
The Trojans stayed around in part because of a performance from relief pitcher Jack Krawczyk that rivaled Viper at Magic Mountain for peaks and valleys.
"He's had some strong outings, but he's never had his feet held to the fire like that," said Trojan Coach Mike Gillespie. "He's done so much for us for such a long time . . . that we knew he wasn't going to crack. We knew we were going to get his best. I wasn't too happy with him when he gave up that two-run homer, though."
That came in the eighth inning when Krawczyk came on in relief of Mike Penney with an 8-6 lead and Florida's Ty Martin on first base. One pitch later, the game was tied, 8-8, and Mark Ellis was jogging out a two-run homer.
"It was the only mistake he made all night," Ellis said. Krawczyk sailed through the ninth inning, but had runners on first and second with two outs when Gillespie opted to walk Brad Wilkerson intentionally to push the bases full.
"It wasn't a difficult decision," Gillespie said. "He is arguably the best player in baseball [Wilkerson was one publication's college player of the year], and a very special hitter."
Krawczyk made the strategy golden when he retired Casey Martin on a tapper in front of the plate on a 3-and-2 pitch.
"There were 10 or 15 plays in the game that, if they had gone to Florida, the game would have been different," said Freitas. "That 3-2 pitch by Krawczyk was one of them."
Another was made by Freitas in the 11th inning when he took a hard-hit ball by Jason Dill off the left field wall on the fly and threw Dill out at second base.
That would have spelled extra trouble for the Trojans and Krawczyk, who had already given up two runs in the inning.
USC had taken an 8-4 lead with runs the sixth and seventh innings, but left the bases loaded in the sixth when Morgan Ensberg took a called third strike; and left two on in the seventh when Wes Rachels matched Ensberg.
Florida scored a run in the seventh and three in the eighth to tie it for Josh Fogg, who was pitching in relief of Tommy Bond.
Matt McClendon relieved Fogg in the 10th inning and was the victim of the Trojan 11th that began when Eric Munson doubled off the center-field fence. Brad Ticehurst bunted safely and stole second, and he and Munson scored on Freitas' single through a drawn-in infield.
Jason Lane doubled Freitas to third, and, one out later, Rachels was walked intentionally to load the bases. That set up Perry's single, a bloop over the head of second baseman Ty Martin.
Florida's exit was the first time a top-seeded team has gone two-and-out of the College World Series since Florida State did it in 1991.
In winning its 10th World Series game in a row--which ties a record set by the USC teams of 1972, '73 and '74--LSU gets a day off and plays Wednesday against the winner of the Mississippi State-USC knockout game.
The Tigers also tied a series record by coupling their six home runs Monday with the eight hit in their opener against USC and are odds-on favorites to shatter the mark. The record of 14 by a team was set over four games and LSU has a minimum of two left.
The Tigers got Brad Cresse's third home run of the tournament, a two-run shot in the second inning that was seen by his father, Dodger coach Mark Cresse who spent his off day in Omaha and away from Nomo-melancholia.
Danny Higgins, Clint Earnhart, Wes Davis, Blair Barbier and Cedrick Harris added homers.
"We got a couple [actually four] two-run homers," said LSU Coach Skip Bertman, who compared the day to Saturday, when the Tigers hit six solo home runs. "We've still got to move the ball better and get some hits. We've got to put more pressure on the defense."
There's pressure all around at the College World Series, but little on LSU and Arizona State, the only teams left in the field without a loss, and none on Florida, which departed Omaha with Florida State, under a cloud.
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No. 7 LONG BEACH STATE (42-22-1) vs. No. 2 MIAMI (51-11)
* Time: 12:30 p.m. PDT. * TV: ESPN. * Radio: KPLS (830).
* Story line: The 49ers send left-hander Mike Gallo (6-2, 3.34) back out against the Hurricanes after he gave up nine hits and three runs in six-plus innings in losing to them Friday night in the opening game for the two teams. The loser of this game goes home, and Miami will probably start Darryl Roque (13-2, 4.33), but will keep him on a short leash because Alex Santos, who shut down the Long Beach in the opener, will have three days rest and be ready.
No. 8 MISSISSIPPI STATE (42-22) vs. No. 4 USC (45-17)
* Time: 430 p.m. PDT. * TV: ESPN2.
* Story line: The Bulldogs, who have already used eight pitchers in two games, were unsure of their starter but were leaning toward Chris Reinike, who got only one man out and gave up three hits and five runs in Mississippi State's 14-13 win over Florida in its opener. USC has freshman Rik Currier (5-1, 5.23) ready after he struggled in the East regional because of nervousness.